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Jan 2, 2010

7 Steps For a Killer Website

Web design is a very unique occupation because it combines the best of two worlds; technology and art. A web designer is able to release their design talent and ideas while still remaining in touch with technology. Unlike professions such as programming or graphic design, website designers tend to require less specialization and take on more of a jack of all trades approach. It is not uncommon for a website designer to be quite proficient in many different mediums and applications such as Photoshop, Flash and Dreamweaver. Moreover website design always brings new and exciting challenges every day. Taking the complex puzzle that each project brings to the table and finding suitable solutions is an absolute joy in itself.

When working in website design there tends to be seven crucial steps involved in the project. Every project will vary however these steps are the key building blocks for every website.

1. Planning:

Define the goals and purpose of the website. Any unique project requirement should be identified and accounted for as well such as whether a CMS is required or any particularly interesting and potentially challenging features.

2. Contract:

Create and submit a proposal to the client for the project, which outlines the entire project in written form so that all parties involved understand the expectations and outcome of the project. A time frame and financial agreement should also be set at this time. While at times you may prefer to not create a contract, it is always important to have something to fall back on, if things go south.

3. Design:

In this step you must find your customers target audience, and design a website according to their needs. Color, layout, font, and many other design elements depend on the target audience.

4. Building:

Convert your design into its respective language(s). In general most website will at minimum require HTML and CSS, while more advanced website may also require other languages such as JavaScript, PHP, or Ajax. If you are unable to code the website by hand using a development environment, you may prefer to use a tool such as Adobe Dreamweaver.

5. Testing:

Of all the steps testing is perhaps the most crucial. Unlike a typical computer program, a website is run in a web browser, of which there are many. Each browser follows its own rules and may or may not include certain features as their competitors. In general you can get away with testing your work in the follow browsers: Internet Explorer (6 through to 8), Firefox, Netscape, and Opera. Besides testing the individual web browsers you may also like to ensure that your website meets HTML and CSS standards (visit w3c.org for more information).

6. Launch:

Secure a domain and hosting package, upload the websites files to your host's server. Popular choices for purchasing domains and hosting are 1and1 and Hostgator.

7. Site maintenance

In order for most websites to be successful frequent updates will be required to the content as well as fixing any bugs that may turn up with new releases of software and browser updates.

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